Thursday, November 11, 2010

Temples of Bahadurgad Fort : A Photo Feature

                                                          Pic: Bhawani temple, source :

Bahadurgad is a land locked fort  situated at Pedgaon (Thorale) village, around 20 kms from Shrigonda, in Ahmednagar district (Off Pune Solapur highway).

                                                 Pic: Pedgaon fields

In the post medieval period, Bahadurgad served as a major Mughal post. The fort itself was said to have been built by Bahadur Khan Kokaltash, the mughal viceroy to the Deccan and hence named Bahadurgad.
It is generally synonymous with the story of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who was said to have divested this mughal camp of wealth worth lakhs and around two hundred arab horses (which Bahadur Khan was so eagerly waiting to present to the emperor Aurangzeb).

The story goes that , Shivaji had heard the news of the arrival of the two hundred trained arabian stallions at Bahadurgad and very much desired their ownership. For this purpose, he planned a seige of Bahadurgad with 9000 mavalas. Shivaji divided his army in groups of 2000 and 7000 respectively.
Shivaji had earlier deliberately leaked the news that he was planning to attack Bahadurgad. So naturally, the mughals were vigilant.

Pic: Hatti moat

Initially Shivajis contingent of 2000 men attacked the fort. The mughal who were waiting for them responded with an array of spears and arrows. The maratha contingent then surprisingly chose to retreat. But Bahadur Khan was not just content with seeing the enemy flee. He had already made up his mind to anhilate this contingent for their impudence.
Bahadur Khan it is said himself led the chase. But to his dismay he soon realised that the first contingent was merely a smokescreen. Meanwhile,luring the mughals away from the fort by well over 20kms, the marathas dissappeared in the thick woods.
In tow was the remaining 7000 odd maratha contingent that soon attacked the fort. The few people Bahadur Khan had left behind were no match for the marathas. They were easily struck down and the marathas looted the fort with glee abandon. Then they made off with the wealth as well as away the gift meant for the emperor.
It was only after Bahadur Khan returned with his people to the fort that he realised the ruse Shivaji had played on him. This incident was said to have taken place sometime in 1674.

In 1678, Bahadurgad witnessed a change of events, when Shivaji’s son Sambhaji fell out with him. Sambhaji was said to have taken refuge in Bahadurgad which was then in the control of the mughal general Diler Khan. But soon Sambhaji realised his mistake and returned back to his father.
Later in 1680, after Shivajis demise,Sambhaji became king. He continued the maratha resistance against the mughals.
In 1689, Sambhaji was captured at Sangameshwar by the mughals. He was brought to Bahadurgad, this time as a prisoner. Sambhaji was subjected here to a horrific torture and asked to convert to Islam. But on Sambhajis refusal he was shifted to Tulapur where he was beheaded. Today , Bahadurgad has been renamed as Dharmaveergad in the memory of Sambhaji, the valourous (veer) son of Shivaji who preffered death than treachery to his Dharma (religion).

Later this fort of Pedgaon came under Nizam Salabat Jung, the mughal governor (Nizam of Hyderabad). The Nizam was then at war with the marathas.
 In 1759,Bahadurgad was wrested away by the marathas (under the leadership of Sadashivraobhau) from the Nizam.
Today the fort of Bahadurgad lies in ruins. Except for a few monuments and broken down walls and bastions, most of the structures have disappeared from the fort. Today the fort can be accessed from the Pedgaon village through a old entrance which proudly displays its new name Dharmaveergad.

One has to pass through a rough road which takes one around the fort. Mercifully the vehicle can be taken right inside the fort.

Inside the fort one gets to see several broken walls, ruined bastions, run down temples, masjid etc.

                                           Pics above: the walls of Bhavani temple

                                          Pic above: Rameshwar temple

                                                    Pics above: idols at Rameshwar temple

                                                            Pic: Mallikarjun temple

Pic: Bhawani mata temple

Pic:Ganesh temple

Amongst the several temples inside the fort , there are the Bhawani mata temple (fortified by a stone wall), the Hanuman temple (with a large Hanuman image in saffron), the Ganesha temple and some very old Yadavkaalin temples (built in the Hemadpanthi style)  including the Rameshwar temple, the Mallikarjun temple, the Laxmi Narayan temple and the Baleshwar temple.

                                                               Pic: Laxmi Narayan temple

Of all these Hemadpanthi temples, the Laxmi Narayan temple is the most well preserved and is under the protection of the Archaelogical Survey of India. 

Its walls are ornamented with some exquisite sculptures and is a treat for every art connoisseur.

Adjoining the Laxmi Narayan temple is the Baleshwar temple which also tries to match up to the beauty of its twin. But most of its adornings have withered away with time.

Pic: entrance to the Rajsadar, mansion of Bahadur Khan Kokaltash

Furthermore there is the two storied mansion of Bahadur Khan that looks across river Bhima. Some call it the Mastani Mahal.

The fort of Bahadurgad is steeped in history and yet lies in a state of absolute neglect from the concerning authorities, completely ignored and in utter dilapidation.

Text and Photographs by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha (except the one credited) and Banibrata Das.

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