Forts of Gujarat
DURING the Rajput period adequate attention was given to fortification’ Forts were called by different names depending on their location etc, e.g. Sivir, Vahinimukha, Sthariya, Samviddha, Kolaka, Nigama and Sikandhatva. Forts were of various types, e.g. Vanadurga, Salilidurga, Parighadurga, Pankjadurga, Dhanrvadurga, Sahayadurga, Sainyadurga. Some basic rules about construction of forts were laid. In shape they could be circular, square, rectangular; they were to be surrounded by moats, enclosing walls and ramparts, furnished with gates, circumambulating flights of steps and secret staircases in the interior.
In a fortified city there were to be roads and buildings for different professions, and provision for secret entrance and exit had also to be made. It was to be ensured that the forts should withstand siege for a long time, be built in strategic places, possess natural strength, be inaccessible, have high and thick walls so that they could not be breached by cannon-balls or escalated by infantry, and should have enough provisions and water.
THERE are different stories about the foundation of Dabhoi (Durbhavati in Sanskrit), a fortress of considerable importance about 25 km from Baroda in Gujarat. One legend says that many centuries ago a king of Patan named Sadana Jaisingh had seven wives, amongst whom Ratanben was his favourite. He was dismayed that she failed to give him a son. She then went on a pilgrimage to the Narmada. When she was about ten miles from the place she halted in a grove where a holy Gosain told her that in a few days she would give birth to a male child. This came true. A child of twenty months was born to her who was named Vishaldev. The enchanted king permitted his queen to remain in the grove and ordered that a city surrounded by strong fortifications be built there and beautified with decorations. Many architects were employed and it took them 22 years to complete the city. The chief among the architects sought for and obtained the reward that the town be named Dubhowey after him.
On the other hand bardic traditions tell us that the town of Vishalnagar and the fortress of Durbhavati were founded, rather repaired, by Vishaldev.Ali Muhammad Khan ascribes the foundation of the forts of Bharoch and Dabhoi to Sidh Raj who reigned Patan from 1093 to 1142. This appears doubtful and honest men. Whereas the stoutest man unjustly charged with theft can creep through it with ease, the thinnest culprit will get stuck.
In proposition of architecture and elegance of sculpture, the Diamond Gate is superb. This beautiful pile extends 320 feet in length with proportionate height. Rows of elephants, roughly caparisoned, support the massive fabrics. The architraves and borders round the compartments of figures are very elegant and groups of warriors are seen performing martial exercises on horse back or foot or elephants. The magnificent gate has disappeared partly through neglect and partly through ravages of the ruler's bigotry.
Champanir Gate is graceful and perfect. Besides a Kalika temple, a Mahadev temple is also impressive. The Kalika Mata Temple has a passage leading a distance of 16 miles to Pavangarh.
At the end of 13th century, Gujarat was overrun by the forces of Ala-ud-din Khaiji, emperor of Delhi. Later Sultan Mohammad bin Tughluq appointed Mughil as governor of Gujarat to liquidate troublesome elements of Afghans, such as Ghazi Jalai and his followers. But in a battle that took place in Dabhoi, Mughil was decisively beaten. He escaped with great difficulty and crept back to his refuge, the fort of Patan.
There is a reference that in his expedition to Deccan on 6 September 1529 Bahadur Shah, king of Gujarat, left Muhammadabad (Champanir) and encamped at Dabhoi, Thence upto 1725 Dabhoi remained in the possession of Muslim rulers.
In 1725 Senapati established himself at Dabhoi and made it his regular head quarters Two years later Pilagi, Senapati's servant, took over Dabhoi from his master.
In 1775, half-drowned British troops sought shelter behind the venerable walls of Dabhoi while the Marathas camped at Bilahapur near Baroda. In this war between the Peshwa and the British, Fateh Singh sided with the latter.
In December 1779 Col. Goddard joined the Bombay force with the Bengal army and took possession of Dabhoi which was held by 2000 of the Peshwa troops. On 29 February 1780 Holkar and Scindia, the Peshwa's allies, encamped near Dabhoi. Between 1775 and 1787 it was occupied by British troops.
On July 1817 the Bombay Government considered Dabhoi as the bone of contention between Gaikwad and Peshwa and proposed that Dabhoi along with two other places be exchanged for the Parganas of Viramgam and the Panch Mahal which were leased to the Baroda state by the Peshwa. Dabhoi was valued at Rs 2,07,918.
Of the walls, the western and a part of the northern side alone show what the original fortifications were like. A very small portion of the internal colonnade remains. The neglect and general pilfering have done the walls much harm. The north-west bastion and south-west tower are in fairly good condition.