Category Archives: FortComplexes

Champaner-Pavagadh complex

UNESCO’s World Heritage project site is a trove of documentation on the sites that are preserved under the project. In India, the Champaner-Pavagadh complex is one such brilliantly documented site.

The nomination document says:

This hill, said to be an outcome of a sudden volcanic eruption, is the only one in the surroundings and commands a breathtaking view from as far as Baroda on one side and Godhra on the other.

With hundreds of kilometers of vast plains west and north of the hill, Pavagarh gave rulers a strategic position overlooking the routes into Gujarat from the south and south-east.

Champaner is to the north-east, at the base of Pavagarh hill.

The structures present in the complex:

The building typologies identified are military structures like Armoury, Barracks, Manjanik (Catapults), Darwaza (Gates), Killa (Fortifications), Kotardi (Prison Cells); residential structures like Mahal (Palaces), Manzil, Kothar; civic structures
like Baradari (Pavilion); religious structures like Mandir, Masjid, Maqbara; Jalaashay like Kund/Hauz (Tanks), Kuan (Wells), Bandh (Dams), Hamam (Baths), Pul (Bridge), Water Channels, Vavs (Stepped Wells); residential and commercial precincts.[Emphasis added]

Pavagarh

Champaner

Remains of Rohtasgarh

By itself, the remains of Rohtasgarh are less impressive compared to its location and geography. It should not be confused with Qila Rohtas which was named after Rohtasgarh by Sher Shah Suri, perhaps impressed by the defenses of Rohtasgarh-on-Son.

It is situated at the eastern end of the Kaimur range and overlooking the river Son. There is a core fort surrounded by a fortification that runs along the edge of the 1500-feet Rohtas Plateau making it one of the most impregnable forts in India.

The fortification runs along the edge of the plateau, while the plateau is connected to the rest of the Kaimur range by a thin strip of land on the western side.

In the terrain map above, zoom out to view a larger area and you’ll notice that the fort commands the plains and plateaus towards the east, a major reason why it was held by one power or the other from ancient times down to the few years following 1857, from Raja Harishchandra who is believed to have built it, to being coveted and captured by Sher Shah Suri, to being occupied by Kunwar Singh in the war of 1857, followed by the EEIC troops.

For more information, see the Bihar and Orissa Gazetteer on Google Books

Jaigarh-Nahargarh-Amber forts complex

I had previously mentioned how group of forts come together to create a unified line of defense. In most cases, the separate forts are built over centuries to suit the needs of different rulers, whose threat perceptions change over centuries. One such group is the NahargarhJaigarhAmber forts complex in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

The Southern End of the Aravallis
The complex commands a strategic location at the southern end of the Aravalli range and protects Jaipur from the North while a few ridges of the Aravalli’s cover the eastern approaches to the city. In its hay days, it must have provided excellent defenses against Mughals in Delhi and Agra, which are both to the North-East and East, respectively.

The Fortifications
The white lines below follow the fortifications that are visible in Google Maps.

The fortifications connect the three forts into a single entity. I’ve managed to discern the general axes along which the forts must’ve connected and covered the hills.

There are remnants of a wall/fortification that can be seen in the terrain map above, running along the top of the ridge on the left which runs away North-east towards Delhi.

IAF radars adjacent to Jaigarh

The strategic importance of the area reflects in the fact that a modern day fort exists on the hillock adjacent to Jaigarh in the form of an IAF radar station. It is not surprising given the fact that a similar high ground does not exist towards the west for another 100KMs or so.