Lohagarh Fort

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Author of this article is Laxman Burdak लक्ष्मण बुरड़क
The Iron Fort of Bharatpur
Bharatpur palace, Bharatpur

The Lohagarh Fort, constructed by Bharatpur Jat rulers, true to its name stood solidly in front of many British attacks, and frustrated them to ends. Lohagarh' means 'fort of iron'. and the fort was what its name suggested; virtually impregnable. protected by deep moats on all sides, it was said that it could fall "only when a crocodile swallowed up all the water of the moat." It is obvious that the Jats did not believe in laxity. So while other weaker forts gave way easily, Lohargarh always stood firm, giving Bharatpur town the security it needed.

History

It faced the British onslaught four times and after a long siege they had to withdraw. General Lake invested Bharatpur on the 7th January 1805, but the Maharaja seeing that fall of the fortress would be a certain prelude to his own overthrow, resolved to defend it with all the resources at his disposal and repulsed four successive assaults made on the 9th and 21st January and 20th and 21st February 1805 subjecting the British army to a loss in killed and wounded of 3203 officers and men.[1]

Most of the English guns became unserviceable from incessant firing, the artillery stores and provisions were exhausted and the sick and wounded were very numerous. The army thus being no longer in a condition to renew hostile operations, the ordnance and troops were withdrawn, General Lake occupied a position to the north-east of Bharatpur, commanding the roads to Agra, Mathura and Dig and ordered supplies of all kinds from different parts and battering guns and ammunition from Fatehgarh and Aligarh.[2]

It is much to the credit of the Maharaja's prudence and sagacity that in spite of his success in the defence, he sued for peace and sent his son Kunwar Randhir Singh with keys of the fort to General Lake, whose elevation to peerage at the same time was taken advantage of, by offering congratulations. [3]

Col. Malleson in his Native States of India eulogizes the event in the following terms :-

" But though the Raja of Bharatpur lost by the line he had taken both money and territory, he gained in prestige and credit. His capital was the only fortress in India from whose walls British troops had been repulsed, and this fact alone exalted him in the opinion of princes and people of India." [4]

Construction of the Fort

The fort sits on an artificial island in the middle of the town, with a somewhat forlorn look about it. Yet it is the focal point of Bharatpur today, just as it was of the town's history in the past. Begun by Maharaja Suraj Mal in 1732, it was completed only 60 years later (see Maharaja Suraj Mal). The strong point of this once-formidable fort were its thick outer mud walls, which lovingly absorbed all the firing from the Mughal and British armies. The cannon balls would sink into the mud, only to be collected later and fired back at the enemy! These terrific walls were about 7km in length and took as many as eight years to complete. Lohargarh was probably inspired by the mahi durg (mud fort) as described in ancient Sanskrit scriptures. But sadly, the walls were broken down by the British when they took over the fort in 1826, though portions of the inner walls still remain.

Ashtadhatu Gate - The main entrance to this grand fort is the Ashtadhatu Gate. Ashtadhatu means 'eight metals', for the spikes on this edifice are made of eight different metals. This north-facing imposing gateway with huge rounded bastions and paintings of war elephants carries a unique history. Originally it used to be the gate of the Chittorgarh Fort (in Rajasthan itself). From there it was carried to Delhi by Sultan Alauddin Khilji who plundered the Rajput city in the late 13th century. The victorious Jats then tore it down from the walls of imperial Delhi during their attack in 1764 and brought it back with them to Bharatpur. The Lohiya Gate in the south of the fort was also lifted from Delhi in a similar fashion.

The sandstone durbar (maharaja's meeting hall) with finely carved walls, pillars and archways now houses a museum.

दलीपसिंह अहलावत लिखते हैं -

भरतपुर किले की बनावट - इस किले की बाहर वाली खाई लगभग 250 फुट चौड़ी और 20 फुट गहरी थी। इस खाई की खुदाई से जो मलबा निकला, उसमें 25 फुट उंची और 30 फुट चौड़ी दीवार बनवाई गई जिसने शहर को पूरी तरह घेरा हुआ था। इसमें दस बड़े-बड़े दरवाजे थे, जिनसे आवागमन पर नियन्त्रण रहता था। इनमें से किसी भी दरवाजे से घुसने पर रास्ता एक पक्की सड़क पर जा पहुंचता था, जिसके परे भीतरी खाई थी, जो 175 फुट चौड़ी और 40 फुट गहरी थी। इस खाई में पत्थर और चूने का फर्श किया गया था।

दोनों ओर दो पुल थे, जिन पर होकर किले के मुख्य द्वारों तक पहुंचना होता था। पूर्वी दरवाजे के किवाड़ आठ धातुओं के मिश्रण से बने थे, इसीलिए इसे ‘अष्टधातु द्वार’ कहा जाता है। महाराजा जवाहरसिंह इसे दिल्ली से विजय चिह्न के रूप में लाये थे1। मुख्य किले की दीवार 100 फुट ऊंची थी और उसकी चौड़ाई 30 फुट थी। इसका सामनेवाला भाग तो पत्थर, ईंट और चूने का बना था, बाकी हिस्सा केवल मिट्टी का था, जिस पर तोपखाने की गोलीबारी का कोई असर नहीं होता था। किले के अन्दर की इमारतें दोनों प्रकार की थीं, शोभा की भी और काम आने वाली भी। आठ बुर्ज बनाये गये थे। इनमें सबसे ऊंचा जवाहर बुर्ज था। सभी बुर्जों पर बहुत बड़ी-बड़ी तोपें लगीं थीं बड़ी तोपें सूरजमल ने स्वयं ढ़लवायीं थीं। इन सब तोपों को चलाना या प्रयोग में लाना भी आसान काम नहीं था। 48 पौंड का गोला फेंकने वाली एक तोप ऐसी थी, जिसे खींचने के लिए 40 जोड़ी बैल लगते थे। लूटकर या खरीदकर प्राप्त की गयी अनगिनत छोटी तोपें भी लगीं थीं।[5]

Fort Museum

Bharatpur Museum

Today most of the fort is occupied by government offices and a museum. One thing which strikes one immediately about the architecture is the lack of ostentation; Lohargarh is definitely much simpler as far as carvings, paintings and other frills go. With its emphasis on security and security only, there's almost no room for unnecessary ornamentation. It is modest and functional, which is perhaps something to do with the Jat way of life. Some of the residential chambers do have some adornment, but only very little.

Fort Palace

Mahal Khas

Inside the fort are three palaces, Mahal Khas, Kamra Palace and the Palace of Badan Singh. Some interesting monuments in the fort are Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and Kothi Khas. Moti Mahal and towers like Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj were erected to commemorate the victory over the Mughals and the British army .

The palace (Mahal Khas) stands within the Lohagarh or Iron Fort, a citadel in the walled city of Bharatpur. The fort was built by the Sinsini Jat king Suraj Mal (r.1733-63) and the palace is one of three in the fort built by the Jats between 1730 and 1850, the others being Badan Singh’s Palace, also known as the Old Palace, and the Kamra Palace. The palace has bangaldar or curved roofs and balconies supported on heavy carved brackets, both characteristic of Jat royal architecture at Bharatpur and nearby Dig.

Badan Singh Palace

Badan Singh’s Palace in the Lohagarh or Iron Fort at Bharatpur, Rajasthan, is one of three palaces within the fort, a citadel built at the north-west corner of the walled city of Bharatpur by the Sinsini Jat king Suraj Mal (r.1733-63). Badan Singh’s Palace, also known as the Old Palace, stands at the highest point and was built in c.1733 by Suraj Mal’s father, who ruled between 1722 and 1733.


The Kamra Palace next to the Badan Singh Palace was the place for storing all the armory and treasury of the fort. The Kamra Palace, in the west section of the fort, is now the government museum. It has Jain sculptures, a 1st century BC carving of a yaksha, a weapons collection, and manuscripts in Arabic and Sanskrit. There is a good view of the area from the palace roof. The eastern Mahal Khas, built by Maharaja Balwant Singh (ruled 1826-53), contrasts sharply with the rest of the Spartan fort; it has some beautiful wall paintings. The chambers are small with ornate pierced stone windows, and lovely patterned marble tiled floors. Badan Singh’s Palace was created around 1733, but was elaborated greatly by the succeeding generations.

State Archaeological Museum

The Kamra Palace and the durbar hall of the Badan Singh Palace were converted into the State Archaeological Museum in 1944. The museum houses an interesting collection of sculptural findings of eastern Rajasthan, with some pieces from the 2nd century AD. The terra cotta toys of the early centuries excavated at the nearby village of Noh, and the 10th century Ganesha are some of the nicer exhibits. There's also a fine carving of Shiva as Nataraja (the cosmic dancer), belonging to the 10th century. But the best piece is perhaps the 2nd century red sandstone shivalinga (Shiva's phallic symbol).

It is very different from the other forts in state, there is no flamboyance associated to fort but it generates an aura of strength and magnificence. The fort is surrounded with moat which was previously filled with water to ward off the enemy attacks. The sandy ramparts were strengthened by sandy battlements, thus the enemy guns proved of no avail.

Located in the centre of the famous Lohagarh Fort, the Bharatpur Museum houses a rich collection of archaeological wealth of the nearby areas as from the old Bharatpiir State. The huge palatial building Kachahari Kalan, once the administrative block of the rulers of Bharatpur state, was converted into a Museum in 1944. Lateron, the Kamra Khas (personal chamber) building on the first floor was added to the museum. It exhibits sculptures found during the excavation of old villages e.g. Noh, Mailah, Bareh, Bayana etc. ranging from the Kushana period.

Kishori Mahal Bharatpur

The Gateway has paintings of huge elephants.

Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj

A few of the eight imposing towers still stand erect within the glorious ramparts of the fort. Especially two of them - Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj are of special interest. These were built by Maharaja Sawai Jawahar Singh and Maharaja Ranjeet Singh respectively to commemorate their victories over the Mughals and British respectively. The coronation ceremony of the Jat rulers of Bharatpur was also held at the Jawahar Burj. The Jawahar Burj was built by Maharaja Swai Jawahar Singh in 1765, in celebration of his attack on Delhi. There are a series of pavilions here, the ceilings of which display some badly deteriorating frescoes. The Fateh Burj is a victory tower too, raised after driving away the British forces in 1805. It was from these towers that the Jat Maharajas happily surveyed their fast-growing kingdom.DrRajpalSingh 10:33, 17 January 2012 (EST)

Genealogy of Jat Kings on The Vijay Stambha

There's an iron pillar in the palace complex called the Vijay Stambha (Victory Column) on which is inscribed the genealogy of the Jat kings starting right from Lord Krishna. UN Sharma has mentioned the chronology of Krishna in which starting from Sindhupal in 64th generation of Krishna to Bharatpur ruler Maharaja Brijendra Singh (1929-1948) all the rulers are mentioned as Yaduvanshi Jats.[6]

Ganga Mandir temple

Ganga Mata temple, Bharatpur

Maharaja Balwant Singh started the construction of this big temple in 1845. The construction was carried out by a unique method, where all persons employed in the service of the state, were asked to donate one month’s salary of their service or any raise in pay towards the shrine. The temple is a beautiful piece of architecture.

Laxman Mandir (Temple)

This temple is famous for beautiful stone work with elaborate carvings from doorways to ceilings, pillars, walls and arches. The temple is dedicated to Laxmana, brother of Lord Rama.

Art Gallery

The Art Gallery of the museum has specimens of miniature paintings on peepal leaves, mica and old lithopapers along with some old portraits of the maharajas of Bharatpur. The upper storey houses the Armoury section where various types of guns and miniature cannons called chaddre, which were used in the 18th century, are displayed.

Nehru Park

Between the Museum and the main entrance, the Ashtadhatu Gate, is the Nehru Park. It is a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the breeze, with pretty lawns, flowerbeds and the Madhuban Cafeteria.

Visiting Hours

(Museum) : 1000-1630 (closed on Fridays)


See also

References

  1. History of Bharatpur/Chapter III, By Jwala Sahai , p.35
  2. History of Bharatpur/Chapter III, By Jwala Sahai , p.35
  3. History of Bharatpur/Chapter III, By Jwala Sahai , p.35
  4. History of Bharatpur/Chapter III, By Jwala Sahai , p.36
  5. Jat History Dalip Singh Ahlawat/Chapter VIII (Page 659)
  6. UN Sharma :Jaton ka Navin Itihas

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