FORTS OF INDIA(Daulatabad)

DAULATABAD is one of the most natural and best preserved forts of India. It owes its beginnings, according to Stuart Paggot,its geological formation and derives its strength from the peculiar nature of mountain ranges and spires. It is at a distance of about 15 km from Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

By: Poonam Sharma

Posted on: 26/11/2020 View : 32

FORTS OF INDIA(Daulatabad)

DAULATABAD is one of the most natural and best preserved forts of India. It owes its beginnings, according to Stuart Paggot, its geological formation and derives its strength from the peculiar nature of mountain ranges and spires. It is at a distance of about 15 km from Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

Daulatabad is a given name ; originally it was' known as Devagiri, i.e. Hill of Gods. Earlier references say that Bhillana, a Yadav prince, carried out victorious expeditions against the Hoysalas and Chalukyas and carved out a large kingdom with his capital at Devagiri in 1187. His grandson Singhana raised it to the position of a premier kingdom, and under the succeeding Yadavas Devagiri prospered.

But the wealth and prosperity proved a bane. It attracted freebooters. Ala- ud-din Khaiji, when he was a representative of his uncle Sultan Jalaluddin at Kara, was motivated by political and economic ambitions. He launched an attack on Devagiri in 1294 when its main army under Prince Shankaradeva had gone down south and King Ramachandradeva was ill-prepared for a war. Besides, there were inadequate provisions inside the fort and the king could muster only a small force of two- three thousand men. The king took the best course. He shut himself inside the fort.

Then as if luck mocked at Devagiri, a caravan of merchants passing by the fert abandoned some bags which the king's men took for being full of grains. The cheer and morale came down the moment it was found the bags contained salt and not grains. Discretion prevailed and Ramachandradeva opened negotiations and agreed to pay Ala-ud- din a heavy ransom. But as Ala-ud-din was leaving, Shankaradeva returned and in spite of his father's advice opened battle. Though his enthusiasm brought initial success, he was soon defeated and peace this time had to be concluded on harder terms. Devagiri had to promise annual tribute, besides the enormous ransom which was given. According to Ferista, Ala-ud-din carried 600 maunds of gold, seven maunds of pearls, two maunds of other jewels, 4,000 maunds of silk and 1,000 maunds of silver.

Twice again Ala-ud-din Khaiji denuded Devagiri of its wealth. Once it was when the king withheld the tribute for three years and gave refuge to the Sultan's fugitive Rai Karnadeva II, ruler of Gujarat (now Ala ud-din was the Sultan). The fort could not provide protection when in 1307 an expedition led by Malik Kafur was successful and the king was compelled to sue for peace. Devagiri henceforth was ruled as a vassal. Ral Kama's daughter Devala Devi also fell into the hands of the Sultan's men who sent her to Delhi where she was married to the Sultan's eldest son Khizr Khan, The second time was when Shankaradeva on his father's death, tried to regain independence. In 1313 Malik Naib marched on Devagiri and defeated Shankaradeva. The Raja was killed

In 1316 when Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah, the third son of Ala-ud-din Khaiji ascended the throne, rebellion broke out in Devagiri, The following year the Sultan marched in person at the head of a large army. Harpal Deva of Devagiri fled but he was pursued, captured and flayed alive. Devagiri now came under the control of the Sultan. It next passed into the hands of Tughluq when Ghias-ud-din became the ruler of Delhi.

Mohammad bin Tughluq decided in 1327 to shift the capital from Delhi to Devagiri, as the latter was free from attacks of Mongols and was also more centrally located. It was Mohammad bin Tughluq who gave the new capital the name of Daulatabad, i.e. City of Fortune. But according to Stanley Lane- Pool, 'Daulatabad was a monument of misdirected energy,and fortune smiled but faintly for a moment on it. Circumstances compelled Mohammad to take back his capital to Delhi.

The disgruntled nobles of the Deccan soon after met at Daulatabad. Mohammad Tugluq marched to Daulatabad and laid siege to the fort. But after three months he had to leave for Gujarat. The rebels then set up an independent kingdom in 1347. Ala-ud-din Hasan Bahmani Shah whose story reads like a fiction took his capital to Gulbarga and divided his kingdom into four parts, viz. Gulbarga, Daulatabad, Berar and Bidar, each under a governor's charge. When the Bahmani kingdom broke up and five Sultanates came to be set up, Daulatabad became a part of the Nizam- shahi kingdom of .Ahmadnagar. In 1633 after much warfare Daulatabad was annexed to the Mughul empire. For the Mughuls the going was easy, as they had penetrated into the foot of the citadel and the defenders finding themselves completely isolated, had no alternative but to surrender. The kingdom of Ahmadnagar, and with it the fort of Daulatabad, was merged with the empire of Delhi.

Daulatabad has been considered as one of the most complex and intricate of the forts of Deccan. It required minimum artificial defence. Ordinary means of reducing the fortress such as mines, covered ways, batteries etc. were useless against it.

The city of Daulatabad is defended by a strong hornwork consisting of a succession of eight gateways. Three concentric lines of walls with a large number of bastions culminate into the citadel.

The fortress is perched on a cone shaped hill of rock that rises abruptly from the base to about 600 feet in height and has a circumference of about three miles. Its escarpment is smooth and could not be scaled.

The entrance to the citadel is defended by a wide and deep wet moat which was excavated out of a living rock. The bridge over the moat is of an unusual design. It descends rapidly by a flight of steps and rises by another flight of steps to a gallery on the outer side.

This is an alternative arrangement to a draw-bridge. In case of a siege, water was filled in the moat to the desired level. The height of the water was con¬ trolled and adjusted. The moat along with the bridge could be flooded to make the bridge impassable.

The gallery on the other side of the moat goes around three sides of a strong and spiral tower and the enemy rushing through it was under attack from the tower. From the end of the gallery a few steps lead down to a small open court. On one side of it is the entrance doorway to the tunnel, which in fact is the only entrance to the upper fort or inner citadel. It is difficult to walk in the dark and spiral passage of the tunnel where even during day time one has to take a lamp.

At the bend in the tunnel was a small chamber which was provided with a flue pierced through the wall aivd fitted with a staging of iron plates. On these plates a charcoal fire was lit which, fan ned by the wind blowing through the flue would fill the tunnel with its fumes and make any ingress impossible.

On emerging from the trap door at the head of the tunnel one arrives at the foot of a wide and long series of steps which ascend to a pavilion which was perhaps the residence of a princess. From this level a further flight of a hundred steps leads to the level of the citadel. Here are gun batteries and cannons. (One of these was brought to position by a Dutch artillery man.)

The citadel has plenty of water supply from perennial springs.The outer side of the fort has numerous monuments, palaces, temples and mosques. And, inside is the Chand Minar, 210 feet high and 70 feet in circumference at the base. This was erected by Ala-ud-din Bahmani to commemorate his conquests.

Ibn Batuta wrote in 1342 that the Sultan's greatest work was the strength ening and improving of the marvellous citadel of the Daulatabad fort.

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