Lost forts of Alwar

One approach for finding forts is to go through each grid of the AMS. A few weeks ago, in preparation for a trip to Mathura, I was scanning the map around Mathura for forts I could visit on the way. Among the many forts in the area, the one that fascinated me most was the one at Govindgarh. Fascinated, not just because of its wide moat and 15 bastions but also the fact that it was located in a plain with almost no vantage over the surrounding areas and that it was only about 11-12 KMs north-east of Laxmangarh.

Govindgarh & Laxmangarh, District Alwar
Original map courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

My fascination grew as further research started throwing up information about forts that once stood in the area. The first sign that a fort was missing came from the map above. It clearly marks two forts at Govindgarh. The first one north of the village, shown below, was easy to spot but there is no sign of the second one on images available at Google Maps or Wikimapia.

More Googling took me back to the Ulwar Gazetteer.

In the time of M. R. Bakhtawar Singh, a family of Khanzadas
held many villages round the present site of Govindgarh. Nawab Zulfikar Khan was the principal. His seat was known as the Fort of Ghasaoli. About A.D. 1803 Bakhtawar Singh, in conjunction with the Marhattas, expelled him and the 500 horse he is said to have employed. Ghasaoli fort was destroyed, and the site of it is now a Raj grass preserve. The local seat of authority was removed to Govindgarh, a spot very near the old fort. The present fort is said to have been built by Bakhtawar Singh in s. 1862 (A.D. 1805). It is remarkable for the extent of its moat.

There are a Thana Tahsil and school in Govindgarh, and the population is 4290. The town is twenty-five miles east of Ulwur.

Bainsrdwat, a village four miles south of Govindgarh, containing inhabitants. Here there is a platform and building (thara) where formerly Nar Khan Khanzada, brother of Zulfikar Khan, already mentioned, dispensed justice, and a ruined fort in which he resided. It is curious that people of the neighbouring villages, which belonged to Nar Khan or his brother, still come to this thara to settle disputes by oath.

That description mentions two more forts in the area. First at Ghasaoli, which I could not find on the map. Instead, I found a Ghasoli around 36 KMs north-west of Govindgarh. Not surprisingly, there is no sign of a fortification at Ghasoli, assuming this is the same village as Ghasaoli.

Original map courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

Second fort that it mentions was at Bhainsdawat, about 5 KMs south of Govindgarh. Again, there is no sign of the ruins of the said fort.

In the end, we have two forts documented but missing. One at Ghasaoli which was destroyed and replaced with a grass preserve, which certainly means it was completely leveled, although I was hoping to see the remnants of the bastions at least. In the case of Bhainsdawat, if the fort was in ruins in or before 1878, the date when the Ulwar Gazetteer was published, it is possible the ruins are completely destroyed by now.

In both cases, it is possible that the forts ruins have been built over as the Villages expanded or that I am not even looking in the right place or the ruins are present in exactly these locations but just not visible from satellite. Regarding the third missing fort shown south of Govindgarh on the AMS map, it may be a mistake while creating the map or it could be any of the situations above.

A note of caution, Wikipedia page for Govindgarh has the co-ordinates mixed up with that of Govindgarh in Ajmer district not the one it describes or the one talked about here, which is in Alwar district.